How to stop your kids buying apps, in-app purchases on your iPad, iPhone

Use restrictions, passcodes, new Apple IDs and iTunes Gift Cards to limit children's access to iOS devices

Kids love iPads and iPhones. They're a great way to keep children entertained during the summer holidays, with hundreds of apps available for them to enjoy, including games, books, educational apps. However, in light of a recent bout of incidences that saw parents faced with huge iTunes bills after their kids had unwittingly downloaded apps and in-app purchases, it's worth taking precautions to ensure that your children aren't able to do the same while using your iOS device.

The easiest way to make sure that your kids don't end up downloading any apps or in-app purchases on your iOS device is to ensure that they never get hold of your password.

Each time they want to download or purchase something, it will ask for your Apple ID password. Enter your password yourself every time.

How to turn on restrictions on iPhone, iPad

Be aware that, when you enter your password, the default is that it will not need to be entered again for 15 minutes. Within that time, your children could accidentally download hundreds of dollars worth of in-app purchases.

To change this setting and prevent this from happening, go to Settings > General > Restrictions, and then change the 'Require Password' setting to 'Immediately'. Now, every time your child goes to buy something, whether it is an app or in-app purchase, they'll be asked to type in the password before they can progress further.

To stop your kids from having access to the Restrictions menu and changing the settings back (if your kids are a little older and more tech-savvy), you'll be asked to set up a PIN code.

How to turn off installing apps on iPhone, iPad

You can ensure that your child doesn't download any apps at all by going to the Restrictions menu and changing the 'Installing Apps' slider to off. Within this menu, you can also turn off Safari, Camera, FaceTime, iTunes, iBookstore, Deleting Apps, Siri and Explicit Language for further control over your child's access to your iPad or iPhone's features.

How to turn off in-app purchases on iPhone, iPad

You can also turn in-app purchases off completely if you want to. You'll find the on/off slider just above the Require Password option in the Restrictions menu.

Within the Restrictions menu, you can also prevent kids from downloading content from the iTunes Store that may be inappropriate, by tapping each different type of content (music, movies etc.) and choosing your preferred age rating.

How to turn on device passcodes on iPhone, iPad

It's not just within apps or on the iTunes App Store that kids can end up spending their parents' money without realising. In July, a 14-month-old girl accidentally purchased a car using the eBay app when she was playing with her dad's iPhone. In this case, to prevent a child from being able to access your iPhone or iPad at all, you'll want to set up a device passcodes.

To set up a passcode, go to Settings > General > Passcode Lock and tap 'Turn Passcode On.'

You can then choose your passcode. If you slide the 'Simple Passcode' slider to off, you'll be able to type a word rather than the default four-digit number to use as your passcode.

Create a new Apple ID

Having read all this advice, you might be thinking: "What about when I want to use my iPad?"

Apple recommends that, for children over 13, you should create an individual Apple ID for them to use. While this removes the nuisance of having to turn restrictions on and off every time you want to use it, you will need to switch from your Apple ID to your child's and vice versa. However, the benefit is that you can ensure that your child's Apple ID has no credit card on file, meaning there's no money for them to spend in the first place.

In order to switch between Apple IDs, you'll need to go to Settings > iTunes & App Stores and then tap on Apple ID to log out.

Give kids iTunes Gift Cards or iTunes Monthly Gift allowances

If you want to give your child a limited amount of money to spend on their own Apple ID, you can buy an iTunes Gift Card or Certificate from the iTunes Store for them to use.

Further still, you can set up an iTunes Monthly Gift to give your child a set amount of money to spend in the iTunes Store each month. The iTunes Monthly Gift can range from $20 to $100 in value, and can be cancelled at any time.

Of course, the other option is to keep your iPad or iPhone out of their reach completely.

Many parents have found themselves faced with enormous iTunes Store bills after letting their kids play with their iOS devices. In the US, 23 million parents are part of a class action settlement regarding in-app purchases. They are able to apply for compensation from Apple until next year.

While there have been some extreme cases in the UK that saw parents refunded by Apple after their kids downloaded expensive apps and in-app purchases, not everyone gets compensation, so your best bet is to try and prevent it from happening in the first place, by following this advice.

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Ashleigh Allsopp

Macworld U.K.
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